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CAF Buckeye Wing and PT-26 "Queen Mother" to be Featured at Warbirds In Review

Marysville, Ohio, July 10, 2024—At this year’s EAA AirVenture, Dave Holden, Danielle Reese, and Kevin Korterud will present the story of the PT-26 Queen Mother in Warbird Alley July 27, 2024 at 10 a.m. on the EAA AirVenture grounds in Oshkosh, Wis.

Military student pilots go through three stages of flight training: Primary, Basic, and Advanced. In the late 1930s, American military pilots were still getting their primary flight training in biplanes, even though Basic and Advanced trainers were low-wing aircraft. Fairchild Aircraft Company saw the need for a different aircraft that was better suited to train new pilots. Fairchild designed the M-62, a low-wing trainer with a tandem cockpit and fixed landing gear. The prototype first flew in May 1939. In a competition against seven other designs, the M-62 won the U.S. Army’s initial contract for 270 primary trainers. The Army designated the airplane the PT-19.

Meeting the Army's demand for the M-62 was no small feat. With its vision, Fairchild brought in over two dozen subcontractors, including woodworking shops, furniture stores, a hosiery plant, and a foundry. The company also licensed the airplane's manufacturing to Aeronca, Howard Aircraft, St. Louis Aircraft, and Fleet Aircraft of Canada, showcasing a remarkable display of collaboration and unity.

The final version of the M-62 design was known as the PT-26. It was powered by a 200-horsepower Ranger engine and featured an enclosed canopy. The aircraft was initially built for export to Canada under the Lend-Lease program and later produced under license by Fleet Aircraft Company in Fort Erie, Ontario. It was a British tradition to name training aircraft after colleges. For example, the AT-6 Texan was called the "Harvard" in Britain, and the PT-26 was known as the "Cornell." Over 8,000 pilot cadets trained with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) were Americans.

The Buckeye Wing’s assigned PT-26 was manufactured in Hagerstown, Maryland, in 1943, and an unknown ferry pilot brought the aircraft to Canada. Nearly 80 years later, the Commemorative Air Force acquired it, and it was assigned to the Buckeye Wing on May 24, 2022. This aircraft underwent a significant restoration in 2002 and is now sporting the RCAF livery.

You can learn more about the CAF Buckeye Wing, based in Marysville, Ohio, at www.cafbuckeyewing.org or follow them @CAFOhio.

Photos are courtesy of the CAF Buckeye Wing in Ohio

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